Monday, April 19, 2010

Pagudpod Trip: Day 2

On the morning of April 17, Saturday, I woke up in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Definitely not the usual morning for me.

Hehehe. I remembered I’m still in my Pagudpod Roadtrip.

With me in the hotel room is Gab, Melvin and Kirby, my companions during my vacation. You read the story of our first day in our northern adventure and it’s now time to continue with the rest of the story.

Eating breakfast beside the pool is definitely the way to go...

Pictures taken after we all grged ourselves with food...

So after breakfast, compliments from the hotel, we continued with our trip up north. We just passed by St. Augustine Parish Church and we did not linger anymore because there was a wedding going on. If you like, you can have your pictures taken at Bantay Church Bell Tower just beside it. We heard that that’s one of the places where the famous Panday movie of the late actor FPJ was shot. It’s a very old structure so you might find it interesting.


Yazzmin Yang, one of our co-workers mentioned that the sea of the municipality of Currimao would interest us so we were keeping an eye for it. We had a hard time finding it actually but when we saw a sign that said Port of Currimao, which we found just on the left side of the National Highway, we just took that turn. It’s actually a port for commercial and industrial sea vessels but since no one was manning the guard house, we took a chance and drove into the facility. And LO! and BEHOLD!. What a sight…

Seawater surrounding us all around. It’s very surreal because we had our car with us and we are literally driving on top of the water with a concrete slab and 15 inches of space separating our car tires and the surface of the sea. We got very excited that even though we have not applied our sunblock yet, we just got out of the open, at 10AM sunlight and devoured the scene before us.

@Currimao Port: Nice and breezy.
Randy to me: "Mainit dito. Alis na tayo."
Me to Randy: "You're not the boss of me!! Tumahimik ka."
Randy to itself: "ITITIRIK kita mamaya. LINTIK lang ang walang ganti. BWAHAHA."

Hmmm.. ano kaya ang nangyari kay Anne Frank?? (Nyeee.. geeky naman ng iniisip...)


So after that brief encounter with Poseidon’s lair, we proceeded to yet another church. To road trippers, be aware of the left turn that you have to make just after Currimao because if you continue on, you will end up at Laoag. The left turn will lead you to Paoay while the right will get you to Batac, Ilocos Norte.

The majestic facade of Paoay Church is clearly visible from this angle.

Paoay Church, some have said, is one of the oldest and grandest churches of the north. It boasts of a magnificent landscape with aged foundation and columns that could compare with Persian architecture.

Some of the most extreme local stories say that when rainwater was scarce, the slaves who built the church were made to use human blood combined with dirt to form clays that are now part of the structue of the church. Of course, it’s unbelievable yet others claim that when it rains, the rainwater that touches the church ends up red in color. Believe it or not, only you can decide.

Afterwards, we debated on either going back to where we came from and see Marcos Museum or continue on to Laoag City. It’s nearly lunchtime and I have boasted of a really good restaurant in Laoag City that my companions trusted where their tummies led them to. So on to Laoag City…

Between the Municipality of Paoay and Laoag City, we were supposed to pass by Fort Ilocandia but we must have missed a turn and failed to get to the place. Instead, our group decided that we can always pass by it on our way back, including Marcos’ museum.

LAOAG CITY (Ice Cream + Calamansi… weirdly delicious)

It was already lunch time when we arrived at Laoag City. One of the best places to eat would be at Saramsam Café. Virgie and I, on my first trip to Pagupod last 2009, already saw great reviews about the place.

The restaurant is on JP Rizal Street cor Gen Hizon St just in front of Texicano Hotel. You should be able to see it at your left side when you’re driving. Again, we are an advocate of asking the locals whenever we get lost. It’s a very nice experience just to talk to them. A simple smile, an air of someone who’s lost plus a cute face (mine if it’s a girl or gay; Gab’s if it’s a straight guy), will get you all the answers the you need. Nyahaha.

Each serving of their pasta is already enough for 1 person. The best thing to do is for everyone to order different kinds of pasta and then you do a switching-plate game so everybody get’s to taste the restaurant’s menu.

Do not forget to order their Baraniw. Their unique version of Iced Tea with herbal leaves that adds distinct flavor to the drink. For dessert, their Malunggay Sherbet is a must. Do not be surprised if they serve the ice cream with calamansi. Just try squeezing it on the cold ice cream and you’re in for a nice treat.

Malunggay Sherbet with Calamansi


After lunch, we decided to push through with our journey. We wanted to reach Pagudpod before twilight because we still have to find a place to stay. But before we reached Pagudpod, we came upon one of the tallest lighthouse in the Philippines.

As we are about to reach Cape Bojeador, I was thinking on “Ang Lalake sa Parola” (hehehe). To those who know the allusion to the movie, well, I leave the rest of the thinking to you.

Ang Lalake Sa Parola... hehehe


The view from the top was breathtaking. I worked at the 50th floor of PBCom Tower so I know the feeling of looking at things in the top perspective but, boy!!! nothing can compare to this.


At last... our Holy Grail!!!

We finally reached Pagudpod and we actually had a difficulty finding a place or rather a “cheap” place. If you have enough money I guess it won’t be a problem for you. But we got a place for only P1,200 and after asking around other accommodations, we were willing to settle for it.

There are two places where you can stay in Pagudpod. The preferred place is at Saud Beach because this is where the nightlife is. The second one is at Blue Lagoon. There are about two hotels there that you can stay but the locals have their version of you paying to stay-in their own house. Blue Lagoon is more serene and not much of a night life so again, I suggest staying at Saud Beach instead. Anyway, Blue Lagoon is very accessible from Saud, if you have a car.

Now, since we have not had the chance to dip in salty water, we immediately enjoyed Saud Beach. The sand is not white and the water is kinda cold but for four people who went out of their way to travel, it did not matter at all. Plus, having been here, I still have a few surprises for my three friends (wink. wink)

We had our dinner at Emohrou Beach Restobar. For me, this part is the best part of our Day 2. With the moonlight gazing down on us complimented by the soft lights of the restaurant, it was amazing to drink in the relaxing feeling of sitting at a table beside the beach. The sound of the sea softly lapping at its shore and the gentle breeze in the ambiance, so fresh you’ll feel healthier just by breathing it in, creates a surreal experience for someone who lives in a place polluted by noise and air.

The food was a feast and since all of us are hungry, we did not speak for the next hour and just gobbled our food while being serenaded by the live performer that the place hired to entertain its customers.


Wonder of wonders, when it was time for us to gorge ourselves with alcohol, we looked at their drinks menu and voila!!! we saw an entry called “Pagudpod Sling – Pitcher”. Well, Kirby and I just had our team building at Puerto Galera and our curiosity were immediately aroused by a drink that imitates the fame that Mindoro Sling has in the southern part of Luzon.

The drink was great. It’s not as strong as Mindoro Sling because the rum was somehow diluted by an added ingredient that makes it taste amazing. If Mindoro Sling uses apple slices as an added ingredient, Pagudpod Sling uses young coconut juice and its shredded meat. Just try it and I am sure that you’ll also love it.

What a great end to our Day 2 Trip. Stay tuned to the last and final day of our northern escapade tomorrow. Ciao!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pagudpod Roadtrip: It's sweeter the second time around

How do you chronicle a roadtrip? You have so many things to say because you had so many experiences to share. The places that you've been, the sights that you saw, the food that you ate and the feelings that you had when you were there...

I had such a roadtrip last April 15-17 and I'm having such a hard time writing about it. But as with any writer, I will try and persevere. Recapture my muse and stave off the ugly head of a writer's block.

This is a story of adventure. An odessy of four friends who wanted to explore the northern parts of the country.

Kirby, Gab and Melvin, my trip companions, are my co-workers. Melvin is Gab’s boyfriend. Melvin had once been my agent but he transferred to another company. Kirby is still currently my team mate while Gab is on a different team but had once been my agent as well.

NOTE: If you are planning a roadtrip up there, just try and take note of some of the landmarks that are mentioned here. We did not stray that much from MacArthur Highway so you should have no problems as well in terms of directions.
As with thousands of motorists bound for the north, we took NLEX and exited at Dau which is conveniently the entrance of SCTEX, so we took the northbound lane of SCTEX and exited at Tarlac City, and just like that, we are done with ¼ of our trip to Pagudpod.

Our very first stop-over was at a Shell station in Tarlac City, right after we exited SCTEX. We just made a quick stop and that is where we saw a local celebrity also on a stop over bound somewhere north. Not that famous of a celebrity but at least it caused a stir in our stop over.

Morning of Friday, April 16, we finally arrived at Candon City. This is where we seriously started our adventures to the north. We went over their plaza and entered a really big church. It seemed like the best destinations have elegant churches among their tourist destinations so you will find more mention of churches below.


After Candon City, we continued our trip up and got the first glimpse of the sea at Santa, right after Narvacan (I’m thinking that it could be the South China Sea, but I'm not sure). We were so excited to see the water that we went down from our car and actually had pictures taken in the rocky shore of the beach.

For a city boy like me, it's a treasure to cherish this moment... The breeze lapping at your face, the rocky shores inviting you to dine with them in their interminable journey through time, rocks that were shaped by the years of interaction with the salty sea. It was just AMAZING.

I suggested to my friends to just have our lunch there but we did not have rice so we just decided to take our lunch at Vigan City. If you do take your trip there, bring a picnic basket and just indulge the the picturesque scene that nature has created for us.


At 10am, we reached Vigan city. We immediately proceeded to look for a place to stay after we have eaten lunch. If I were you, the best place and the cheapest would be Mel-Sol's Inn & Resort/Baley Park Bar & Grille. You will pass by Mel-Sol’s even before you reach the left turn to enter Vigan City proper. The hotel is just beside the National Highway.

The good thing about the place is that it has a pool included in its amenities and the best part, the quoted rates already has a complimentary breakfast. I swear, we really scoured the entire Vigan City proper for cheaper accommodations and we did not find one so spare yourself the hassle and just check-in there.

We just took some time to rest and then, with our feet itchy to explore the place, we immediately proceeded to Baluarte. Any local can tell you the directions to the place so you need not worry.

Baluarte belongs to Gov. Chavit Singson and it’s free for all. The place is like an interactive zoo where you can see a lot of domesticated animals, most of them are free to roam the expanse of the place. There are of course caged animals either because they are exotic or just plain scary to be roaming around, hehehe!!!

CALLE CRISOLOGO... Step through history!!!

It was getting darker when we went back to the city proper and it was the best time to walk through our history. Calle Crisologo has been preserved for tourists to experience the 18th century. Albeit the fact that it’s a bit commercialized, the antiquity of the street has never been diminished. There was this whole minute when the place was basically deserted except for us (either because everyone else are inside several stores lined up or because they were on the different outskirts of the street) and it was absolutely serene.

I can almost imagine ourselves being a part of the time when Spanish friars ruled the government and the Ilustrados a part of the elite both enslaving the Indios laboring to win their freedom It was very exhilirating just to step on the same grounds that our ancestors did with time separating us. An experience I will never forget.

TIP: From Café Leona, just pass through Calle Crisologo and turn left on Calle Salcedo. Just continue walking until you see a very small place called Insiang’s Empanada. I can tell you that the empanada that they sell is simply divine. A mouth-watering, crispylicious empanada still hot from the frying pan. Order the special one and pair it with a soda, you’d think you’ve gone to heaven.

Back to our hotel, we took a dip in the pool prior to calling it a night.

Stay tune to Day 2 of our northern escapade tomorrow. Ciao!!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Friendship in an Island

Although I had fun with my team at Puerto Galera two weeks ago, my “curiosity” (wink, wink) was not fully satisfied. It was just an overnight event and I was mostly drunk the whole time that I was there. Hehehe.

Holy week was fast approaching and I heard from my team mate Argie that the place is usually packed with my kind of guys during this particular holiday. I’m not entirely sure how he knows that because he’s straight, but I’m not one to ask (Peace Argie!!!)

So when my friends, Ricky, Edan and Francis went out for a night of fun at Malate’s Chelu last Saturday, March 27, we talked about spending our holiday there.

HAPPINESS!!! My holiday just got booked.

Before I give you the titillating details of my adventure @ the “Island” I’d like to introduce you with my newly found friends first:

Francis: He works at People Support. Loves playing badminton. Fun to be with. Life of the party. We actually dated for a while. We decided to stop dating a week after this trip because it just didn’t work out. You know the phrase, “hard as I try, I just can teach my heart to love you”? That’s the short version of it. I still enjoy hanging out with him and his friends so we decided to stay friends.

Ricky is a friend of Francis. He works for HSBC and also loves to play badminton. Francis introduced me to him and his ex-BF (don’t quote me on this) when we went to his place in Mandaluyong one time.

Edan is a long story on his own. He’s Malaysian who’s here in the Philippines for a two-month study/work assignment with HSBC. I met him through Ricky. He has a characteristically funny way of dishing out one-liner quips that others may perceive as somehow “mataray” but to those who know him, he is quite hilarious.

Now, back to my story. Even though I did not have that much money at the time, I just figured, I may be able to scrape a few bucks from my March 30th paycheck.

So… Puetro Galera, here we come!!!

My Thursday night shift ended and with my bags tucked into my car, I found myself hurrying to join Ricky, Edan and Francis on a bus ride to Batangas port at 5am in the morning. We met at Buendia in Pasay City.

It took us the almost the whole morning of Friday to reach Puerto Galera Island so we had to eat breakfast at Batangas port. I had my usual fried tilapia.

We arrived at Puerto Galera island just before noon and since our rented room for three days and two nights is still not ready, we just deposited our bags and went out to the beach for a casual stroll.

SURPRISE!!! The beach was awfully quiet. Devoid of any music that was blaring when my team mates and I last went here two weeks ago.

I turned to my friends for an answer and they told me to be patient because the local businesses are just observing Holy Friday and the music should start at the strike of 12MN.

Oh, okay then!!! No need to panic that my vacation would be ruined by mundane things such as brownout or worse, failed expectations.

I mean, c’mon people. I came here to have some fun. To recharge my batteries from working too hard (hehehe).
CHECK ‘EM OUT. My idea of fun started with the people milling around the beach. Argie was right. The place was packed with good-looking guys who are either on their speedos, board shorts and boxers (Ricky kinda felt icky when he sees someone trying to make their boxer briefs turned into swimsuit attire.) My eyes were definitely satiated.

Dinner was done and since I had a good nap prior to dinner, I am ready to explore. We first went to Jurrasic Park, as what they call the edge of the beach, because they say that it is where the magic happens. True enough, the place was swarming. Though it was pitch black, people seem to be doing nicely at finding their way.

I’ll not go into more details because I still want to leave something to the imagination of those who has not gone there yet but I can tell you that Edan and Ricky had a good time there. Hehehe. Jowk lang.

Anyway, I found myself anticipating the clock striking midnight and boy, I had another surprise when it did and almost in an instant, the island came alive seemingly by itself.

NOW THIS IS FUN!!! Tonight’s gonna be a good night.

The place to be is at Mikko’s Bar.
The drink to have is Mindoro Sling.
The outfit?? The less the better.

With inhibitions left in the room and locked away for the night, we partied until the wee hours of the morning.

For the rest of the trip, we just partied and had a good time doing it. It was such a great experience to share bonding moments with friends. Especially those that you can relate to in about almost everything.

By the end of the trip, all I can finally say is: HAPPINESS!!!